Table of Contents
“5 out of 6” by Dessa hits and the crowd goes wild as Lexi Gold steps out from behind the curtain, already dressed in her ring gear as usual. Normally we see her cheerful and playing to the energy of the crowd, instead she walks down to the ring with a worrisome look on her face. It was unclear why.
She climbs up the steps slowly and makes her way into the ring through the bottom rope then walks over and grabs a mic then waits until her music dies before she begins to speak.
Lexi Gold: Since arriving here in SHOOT Project I’ve been using my free time to reflect on myself. I was lucky to receive massive success immediately upon joining and not just that, but you all made me feel welcome and loved. I appreciated that and still do till this day, however these past few weeks made me realize just how unhappy and untruthful I have been with myself.
The fans begin to stir.
Eryk Masters: What’s going on here, OG? This is so unlike Lexi.
Other Guy: If you’d stop talking over her we could find out, ERYK.
Lexi Gold: This may be shocking to hear, but everything Blaze has ever said about me was and is the truth, and I’m frankly ashamed of what I’ve become. This belt you see around my waist has turned me into a cancerous, selfish monster.
She lowers the mic and shakes her head. The crowd goes silent by the words that come out of her mouth, then she raises the mic back to her lips and sighed.
Lexi Gold: It is hard to believe this, but you people deserve the truth whether you want to hear it or not. That being said, I believe I owe a public apology to Blaze, so Blaze, if you could come out here to the ring and let’s make things right between us.
She paces back and forth, then stops to turn her attention towards the stage and waits for him to come out.
Other Guy: Is Blaze even here tonight, Eryk? He’s been in ‘hiding’ ever since-
“A long long time ago…”
The opening lines to Don McClean’s “American Pie” comes over the speakers.
Eryk Masters: God I hate what this man has done to my enjoyment of this song…
Stepping out from behind the curtain is, indeed, Blaze Claymore wearing a dark blue three-piece suit, white shirt, and red tie. An oversized “You Deserve Claymore 2022” pin hangs from his lapel as a smiling Chadwick Kyle follows closely behind waving sparklers in the air.
Lexi looks on as Blaze and Chad finally reach the ring and Chad holds open the ropes for Blaze to step through. Already with a microphone in hand, Blaze Claymore has a big grin on his face.
Blaze Claymore: Oh my goodness, Lexi! I’m.. just…
Blaze puts a hand to his chest, fighting back… tears? A sneeze? A burp?
Other Guy: Is he… crying?
Eryk Masters: I… think so? He’s not good enough of an actor to fake it so…
Blaze Claymore: I can’t believe this. As someone who has been trying to stand up to Deep SHOOT for months, I can only imagine how frightening this must be for all of you. And yes, of course, I accept your apology… and I know all of these good fans, in time, will come to realize that you’ve done the right thing here tonight.
Blaze takes a deep breath to compose himself before walking over and putting a hand on Lexi’s shoulder, which she instinctively flinches at.
Blaze Claymore: I know we’re still a week away from the 4th of July, but truly… truly today is YOUR and SHOOT’s Independence Day. Just like President Whitmore said when the aliens threatened to destroy Earth nearly three decades ago… “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!”
Blaze pauses for applause but only receives concerned murmurs as Lexi returns Blaze’s gesture and puts her own hand on Blaze’s shoulder.
Lexi Gold: Thank you for coming out here and accepting my apology. I can rest easy knowing this. I also want to apologize for making you look foolish and not realizing my faults in the beginning of our encounter. If it’s okay with you, I’d like the cage above us to be lowered as a symbol in which I deserve to be in after misleading you and the rest of SHOOT.
She looks up at the cage that is specially for the Iron First match, then back at Blaze.
Blaze looks a bit confused and follows Lexi’s eyes up to the cage above their head, which has already started to lower.
Blaze: Uhhh. I mean, that’s such a… generous gesture, Lexi. I’ll just step out of the ring so you can pay whatever penance you think needs to be paid.
Lexi quickly grips his shoulder as his back is turned.
Lexi Gold: No, no, please stay. I’m not exactly done speaking my mind. I admit, I’m tired of carrying around this championship everywhere I go, knowing it caused me to turn into a completely different person, so I want to get rid of this burden and place it into the right and deserving hands of someone else, which is why I want you to have this belt. I trust that you will do better with it than I ever could.
She removes the belt around her waist and looks at it knowingly, before attempting to hand it over.
Blaze stops in his tracks, seeming to forget that the cage is continuing to slowly drop down above his and Lexi’s heads.
The SAG Award Winning* actor walks back over to Lexi and looks down at the belt, running his fingers over the metal finish. Lexi slowly begins to walk backwards with the belt.
OG: Oh! I think I’ve figured out what Lexi is trying to do here! She’s trying to keep Blaze distracted so the cage can come down and then he can’t run away from her any more!
Eryk Masters: You JUST figured that out? Well, at least you’re a step ahead of Blaze he looks like a cat being lured around the ring with a catnip toy.
Lexi stops moving and suddenly slaps her forehead, snapping Blaze out of his stupor.
Lexi Gold: Oh, shoot! Blaze! I almost forgot.
Blaze looks cautiously at Lexi, who looks up at the cage, which is almost all the way descended. She pulls the title back and waves her finger in his face.
Lexi Gold: I lied.
Blaze’s eyes go wide as he looks around and realizes the predicament he’s in.
Blaze Claymore: CHAD!? CHAD! WHERE ARE YOU!
Chadwick Kyle jumps up trying to reach up at the cage – he grabs the bottom rung and begins to thrash wildly.
Eryk Masters: If Blaze wants to be President so bad… looks like he’s got a hanging Chad in his favor.
Other Guy: Shut up.
Chadwick continues to thrash and, as he does, seems to actually be pulling the cage down FASTER as Blaze tries to escape.
Blaze Claymore: NO! Stop helping! Stop helping!
But it’s too late. As Chad lets go, he drops all of two inches to the floor as the cage comes to rest on top of the ring and locks into place. A scared-looking Blaze shoots a glance back over at Lexi Gold who has a big smile on her face and gestures for her nemesis.
Lexi Gold: All right, Blaze. Time to shut up…
Crowd: AND FIGHT!
Blaze Claymore Vs. Lexi Gold (c)
The Dragon and the Ox
Eryk Masters: Gotta say, didn’t expect to see Blaze walk away with that one!
Other Guy: Me either, man. I think there’s probably a lesson here to be learned, but damned if I care to explain it.
Eryk Masters: You know he’s going to be insufferable, right?
Other Guy: Of course, but we can’t dwell on that because we’re headed backstage where Daihm Ferguson is getting ready!
A focused-looking Daihm Ferguson wraps his hands in tape as he sits in his locker room, his manager Sarah King sitting opposite The Dragon as he mulls over his situation.
Sarah King: Daihm, I-
Daihm pauses to hold up a hand halting Sarah’s words and he shakes his head “no”
She sighs and leans back against the wall, staring up at the ceiling.
Daihm goes back to taping his hands up, his eyes cast to the floor – the silence deafening until Sarah finally speaks up again – testing the waters.
Sarah King: When I first came to the UK to find you… do you remember that?
Daihm looks up, his eyes shifting from focused to confused back to focused.
Daihm: Yes… what of it?
Sarah King: Remember how that fuckin’ dirtbag Johnny Vig tried to trick you into a contract? Until I showed up to stop that shit dead in its tracks.
Daihm nods, listening.
Sarah King: It was nearly a year ago already, Daihm. Can you believe it? When I showed up you looked like such a lost little puppy; star struck to see ME of all people in your broom closet of a dressing room…
Daihm: I only got it because Bubble Gum and Pun-… Judy had their ride out of Masterpiece Pro already. I was caught behind; feel like I still am aye’n tellin ya the truth.
Sarah sits up and leans forward, surprising Daihm by reaching out and grabbing his hands.
Sarah King: Do you remember what I said to you that day, Daihm?
He shakes his head.
Sarah King: I said when you and I were done, the WORLD was going to know your name and when the time came it would be Lennox that came looking for YOU.
Daihm quickly pulls his hands back from Sarah and crosses his arms in a bit of awkwardness.
Daihm: Quit tryin’ ta butter me up like a slice o’ toast, Sarah. You know that bastard only came here because he got a damned paycheck to do so. Coulda cared less that I was here.
Silence for a beat…
Sarah King: Fine. Let’s assume that. Still doesn’t explain why he paid his own money to bring that butch bitch “Banshee” here to personally train Punky. Right? Still doesn’t explain why he’s suddenly so keen after weeks of Paria’s attacks on Jamie to NOW make this match. Trust the words of someone who watched the man come up in his business – wanting to pursue his fucking agro fantasy of punching people and getting paid for it. Daihm… dude was a fucking chav and always has been – now he’s just a chav in a suit.
Daihm smirks slightly but tries to hide it.
Daihm: What are you saying, then, Sarah? Why are you bringing this up?
Sarah holds up a finger and reaches into a duffle bag she had held underneath the bench she was sitting on, pulling out a gorgeous-looking luchador mask with a blue base, silver outline, horns, and the slightest protruding dragon snout.
Sarah: That night I also gave you your nickname. Dragon. And fuck kid if you haven’t lived up to the hype.
Daihm reaches and holds the mask in his hands, staring at it in a bit of shock.
Sarah: Punky thinks she can put on a halloween mask and suddenly command respect? Fuck that. YOU, Daihm. You’ve EARNED this and you DESERVE the respect that comes with it.
Daihm runs his thumb over the mask and smiles a genuine smile for the first time in weeks.
Sarah: Now go out there and show them – all of them – why a Dragon will always come out on top in a battle with an Ox.
Ring Intro: Lindsay Troy
The Epicenter is plunged into darkness, and screams and shouts of anticipation immediately rise from the crowd. Cell phone cameras and flashlights wink on while the rigging along the SHOOTron slowly, eerily, lights up, helping to fuel the crowd’s anticipation.
♫ “Put ‘Em in the Grave” by Jedi Mind Tricks ♫
When the Faithful can take no more, the ominous opening chords to “Put ‘Em in the Grave” by Jedi Mind Tricks blasts through the Epicenter’s speakers and the fans’ cheers grow even louder as they call for the Queen of the Ring to appear. White-hot spotlights swirl around the sea of fans before they snap to the entrance way, and from the back their hero emerges, an explosion of light and sound greeting her upon her arrival.
Pyro explodes like cannon fire as Troy stops on the stage for just a moment, then makes her way down the ramp. She smirks at the camera in front of her, then blows right past it, keeping her focus on the ring in front of her. Climbing the steps, the Queen wipes her feet on the apron, slips between the ropes, scales the nearest corner to give the people a much deserved photo op, then jumps off to get ready for battle.
The Greatest, Most Amazing, Wonderful, Hype Video & RING ENTRANCE ...ever.
This video has been produced by the Sanctorium Entertainment DBA the Holy Breedlove Empire…
All smiles, I know what it takes to fool this town
I’ll do it ’til the sun goes down and all through the night time
Oh yeah, I’ll tell you what you wanna hear
Leave my sunglasses on while I shed a tear
It’s never the right time
As “Unstoppable” by Sia plays, the camera fades in to the show of force from Revolution 177, with the ENTIRE Holy Breedlove Empire standing tall at the entrance ramp. The shot zooms in on Joshua Breedlove’s face, who’s grinning from ear to ear.
I put my armor on, show you how strong how I am
I put my armor on, I’ll show you that I am
We flash back now to Master of the Mat, 2021, in the closing moments of the World Championship match against NEMESIS, as Breedlove knees NEMESIS in the face, bringing her to the ground, drags her into the middle of the ring and slapping a triangle on her, felling the valiant FORMER World Heavyweight Champion!
I’m a Porsche with no brakes
Yeah, I win every single game
I’m so powerful
I don’t need batteries to play
I’m so confident
Yeah, I’m unstoppable today
I’m unstoppable today
Still at Master of the Mat, the shot is now of Breedlove standing with World Heavyweight Championship high over his head, celebrating his victory. The scene moves quickly to the end of Master of the Mat, Lindsay Troy is celebrating her Master of the Mat victory AND her newly gained #1 contendership. But then…
Break down, only alone I will cry on out
You’ll never see what’s hiding out
Hiding out deep down
I know, I’ve heard that to let your feelings go
Is the only way to make friendships grow
But I’m too afraid now
Eryk Masters’ voice is heard as the scene changes to the Master of the Mat final post-match…
Eryk Masters: Oh, maybe this is just a congratulations thing. That’s cute! I always thought this was a
friends with benefits situation, but maybe there’s some actual affection there. They were kinda rough on Az, though.
Other Guy: I have a feeling it could have been much worse for Az, man…
Breedlove stands across the ring from Lindsay Troy, who’s staring at him, wide-eyed. Without even thinking about it, Breedlove CHARGES and throws a heavy arm into Lindsay Troy’s chest, causing the Master of the Mat winner to fall to the mat. Breedlove doesn’t stop there as Cromwell Yarbury slides a steel chair into the middle of the ring. Breedlove pulls a still-bloodied Troy to her feet and holds her face in the palm of his hand while mouthing something to her.
Other Guy: Did you catch what he said?
Eryk Masters: Not entirely… something about her doing this to herself?
Troy is prone, her ability to stand only supported by leaning on Breedlove who clearly has no intentions of just letting her leave the ring. He holds her up and motions out towards the crowd, as if to offer a sarcastic congratulations, but the breath doesn’t last long as Breedlove pulls Troy up onto his shoulders and DRIVES HER DOWN WITH THE BURNING HAMMER ONTO THE STEEL CHAIR. LINDSAY TROY IS OUT. COLD. THE CROWD IS BOOING AT THE SIGHT, and Breedlove gets to his feet, all cheshire cat smiles. With the quickness, the crowd begins showering the ring with trash and debris, which only serves to make the new World champion laugh.
I put my armor on, show you how strong how I am
I put my armor on, I’ll show you that I am
The scene changes to the ApeX, night 1, where Lindsay Troy FINALLY gets her shot at Joshua Breedlove, and the two go. to. war. It’s a near-40 minute classic that sees Breedlove barely beat out Troy in a war of attrition, but still standing tall at the end of the encounter. The words “I WIN, I AM VICTORIOUS” are branded across the screen and they’re shouted out through the PA.
I’m a Porsche with no breaks
Yeah, I win every single game
I’m so powerful
I don’t need batteries to play
I’m so confident
Yeah, I’m unstoppable today
I’m unstoppable today
I’m unstoppable today
The scene is now a shower of crimson and gold shiny confetti from Revolution 175, as Breedlove announces he’s signed an extension that carries him through Redemption, where he’ll challenge Ignatius Albert Martin for a shot at reclaiming the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship.
I put my arm around, show you how strong I am
I put my arm around, I’ll show you that I am
We return to the shot of the entire Empire at Revolution 177, Breedlove grinning ear to ear and that’s superimposed over images of Joshua Breedlove carrying the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship… around his waist… on his shoulder… held over his head… and the scene closes with a shot of Buck Dresden, Lindsay Troy, and Ignatius Albert Martin all really far away and Joshua Breedlove really close up with the Redemption logo emblazoned over them.
I’m a Porsche with no breaks
Yeah, I win every single game
I’m so powerful
I don’t need batteries to play
I’m so confident
Yeah, I’m unstoppable today
I’m unstoppable today
I’m unstoppable today!!!
“Make Way for the King” by OHANA BAM EXPLODES over the speakers and the capacity Epicenter crowd comes alive right before transitioning to a SERIOUS amount of boos when they realize what’s happening. Crimson and gold shiny confetti falls from the sky, blurring everything out, confetti everywhere, and then…
“MAKE WAY FOR THE KING”
Crimson and gold pyro shoots out from various places on the ramp, announcing and confirming the entrance of the former SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion, Joshua Breedlove! Breedlove appears at the top of the ramp drawing the expected vitriolic reaction from the Epicenter crowd! He’s got an “Empire” t-shirt on and his normal tights as he makes his way down to the ring and Samantha Coil takes her place…
Samantha Coil: Introducing first… hailing out of Charleston, South Carolina… he is a former Sin City Champion… a two-time Villain of the Year winner… and former SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion… he is… JOSHUA BREEDLOVE!
Joshua Breedlove Vs. Lindsay Troy
Eryk Masters: Okay, what? What just happened? Other Guy: TROY WINS!!! TROY WINS!!! WHAT A VICTORY!!!
Eryk Masters: You don’t think it’s a little strange that that match only ran 2 minutes…?
The crowd starts booing immediately at the quickness of this encounter as Breedlove offers nothing but an intense laugh and a request for a microphone as he’s halfway up the ramp.
Joshua Breedlove: You idiots had to be fucking JOKING if you thought I was going to expend a lot of energy in this match! PLEASE. Consider my obligations to Lindsay Troy DONE. Consider this my wish of good luck in the Redemption Rumble to you, Lindsay Troy, and to the crowd?
He offers a shrug that just oozes smugness.
Joshua Breedlove: I’ll see you all in the main event.
“Make Way for the King” kicks up again as Breedlove SKIPS to the back.
Patriarchy and Anarchy
Standing behind the Epicenter curtain, waiting patiently, are Daihm Ferguson and Jamie Johnson.
The unlikely pair, about ready to have their names called for their tag-team grudge match, are hyping each other up when another unlikely pair, CEO Josh Johnson (aka Real Deal) and Chief of Staff Lennox Ferguson (aka The Ox) arrive on the scene.
All four men stand silently, two per side, split generationally as the elder Johnson and Ferguson take in the scene. Lennox, in particular, looks like he is begging one of them to jump in and say something.
When neither of them bite, he breaks the silence.
Lennox: New gear, Daihm? It’s a good look; not sure it’s approved gear though. You looking to open an Etsy shop? Or is this Sarah’s way of trying to buy you off?
Daihm goes to say something but Jamie steps in instead.
Jamie: What exactly do you two want, huh? To impart a little parental advice? Bit late for that, in your case, Ox; and well, I could care less what you have to say to me old man.
Lennox’s face drops from a smirk into a frown.
Lennox: I was hoping that Daihm here may finally be willing to speak up and say what happened in that hallway with Judy. You know, a last chance to go on the record before we close the formal complaint.
Jamie casts a sharp look over to Real Deal who looks on without much emotion on his face.
Jamie: What is this shit? Is he your lapdog now? Because you don’t want to get your hands dirty you send this suit to intimidate your employees?
Daihm places a hand on Jamie’s shoulder as he steps forward, coming face to face with Lennox.
Daihm: You want my statement? Hmm? Fine. Judy’s an unstable, violent liability to this company. She couldn’t control herself and was about to assault my manager and so I stepped in and did what anyone with a conscience would do – protect her. Back then I was worried about getting her in trouble… worried that if I confirmed she hit me that she’d be sacked. But you know what? She SHOULD be sacked because last week just proved you two don’t have a wrestling promotion here – you’ve got a bloody insane asylum!
The Dragon steps back and lets out a sigh before turning away, tugging lightly at Jamie’s arm to follow.
Jamie looks cautiously at the two administrators. Real Deal looks, silently, over to Lennox.
Lennox: So that’s your official statement?
Daihm stops and shakes his head, laughing.
The Dragon turns around and points at Lennox.
Daihm: You’re fucking right it is. And make sure to include this too.
Daihm slides a thumb across his throat with his eyes locked on his father.
Daihm: After I take care of Judy? You’re up next.
Lennox smirks and whispers something to Real Deal who nods.
Lennox: Well, okay then. Good luck in your match tonight, Daihm. When you’re done, we’ll begin the proceedings for how we’ll need to handle a threat of violence against a member of SHOOT Project administration.
Daihm flips Lennox off and turns around. Jamie looks with frustration and disappointment at his own father as he silently turns and joins Daihm to begin their tag match.
Jamie Johnson/Daihm Ferguson Vs. El Paria/Judy Punchinello
Eryk Masters: Nice win for Daihm Ferguson and Jamie there, but you gotta figure that this isn’t over between either of these four people…
Other Guy: Oh, definitely not. You know Paria is going to want a– I’m sorry, I’m getting word we have to go to the back, there’s been an attack!
“WE NEED EMTs! NOW!”
We cut to the back to see Lennox Ferguson and Real Deal checking on someone lying on the ground. Cameras try to get a glimpse but are unable to do so.
The Ox: MEDICS! WE NEED MEDICS OVER HERE!
Real Deal: Speak to me, man, speak to me…
Real Deal smacks him on the cheek, trying to get whoever this is to answer them. He looks around, trying to see if he can see any perpetrators, but there is no one else around.
Real Deal: Hey! Wake UP, man!
The camera sees over Real Deal’s shoulder briefly and we can see, albeit briefly, the unconscious and prone form of “The All-American Outlaw” Buck Dresden, blood slowly trickling from his nose and busted lip. Lennox Ferguson quickly steps between the camera and Real Deal and Buck.
The Ox: Back up. Unless you know first aid, BACK. UP.
Real Deal continues to cradle Buck’s head while Lennox Ferguson rushes off to find any medical professional. The camera comes back to Real Deal’s shoulder and Buck Dresden.
KHARRION Vs. The Rooster
No Questions Asked
Other Guy: Don’t know what to call that except that it was a hell of a fight, god damn.
Eryk Masters: Tim Roy held up against two significantly game competitors and no decision made? Yeah, definitely a hell of a fight. Crew’s already out here getting things cleaned up, and we’re headed to the back where our cameras have caught up with Ayumi Seppuku!
Standing against a wall along the Epicenter hallway is Judy Punchinello; her eyes are closed as headphones cover her ears.
By chance, she opens her eyes just as an otherwise oblivious Ayumi Seppuku walks directly in front of her.
The two lock eyes for a split second – which is enough to cause Judy to remove her headphones and for Ayumi to stop in her tracks.
The two Soldiers look at each other in silence for what seems like an eternity before Ayumi raises a hand waves timidly.
Ayumi: Hey Punky… how are you?
A twitch in Judy’s face is visible as she pushes herself from the wall, headphones hugging her neck, to approach Ayumi.
Judy: Don’t call me my dead name and I won’t call you by yours.
Now it’s Ayumi’s turn to bristle as she takes a step back.
Ayumi: Look… I’m sorry that things went sideways with your friends. If anyone knows how much of a shit heel Sarah King can be it’s-
Judy raises her hand, cutting Ayumi off.
Judy: No. You don’t get to do that. You really think you’re some untouchable sacred cow don’t you? Hmm? That the world stops and starts at your command…
Ayumi recoils, honestly looking hurt at Judy’s words. Judy, however, gets more frustrated as she speaks.
Judy: I TRUSTED you and RAIKO to have my back. I TRUSTED Bubble Gum and Daihm to have my back. But NO ONE was there for me. You all did the fucking bare minimum and kept on living your lives while mine was spiraling out of control.
Judy shakes her head and begins to point wildly at Ayumi.
Judy: It was my dream to be a tag champion with Bubble Gum as the Pop Punks, but no matter how hard we tried we kept getting sidelined. You get ONE match against Sisters of Steel with Lindsay Troy, win the belts like it’s nothing, and then sit on your hands for weeks!
Ayumi: Judy, I…
Judy: NO! I’M TALKING NOW.
Judy’s chest heaves up and down as she grits her teeth and clenches her fist.
Judy: You’re JUST like all the rest. You coast by on your fucking name and barely need to lift a finger to have success find you. But you’re NOT better than me, you hear me, Ayumi? You’re not ANY better than me.
Ayumi quietly steps back and closes her eyes. Judy looks on, waiting for a response.
Ayumi: Okay, Judy. You want to prove yourself… be my guest. If we don’t meet in the ring tonight during the Redemption Rumble? Name your time and place and I’ll take you on.
Judy isn’t sure how to respond. She wasn’t expecting this. Meanwhile, Ayumi sighs and shakes her head.
Ayumi: And… if you ever want to talk? Get advice? Understand what it takes to get to where I am today? Name your time and place and I’ll train you up. No questions asked.
Now it’s time for Judy to step back, confused.
Ayumi: The choice is yours, babe. What kind of legacy do YOU want to leave?
Ayumi smiles slightly before lowering her head and raising her hand, again, weakly in a gesture of good faith before continuing on down the hall.
Judy opens her mouth to say something, but then decides against it. Instead she closes her eyes and returns her headphones to their position over her ears, positions herself back against the wall of the Epicenter hallway and tries to prepare herself for the main event ahead.
Call for the Warhawk
We open to the backstage area, where an old and faded SHOOT Project Helmet banner is draped on the wall. It is blue, silver, and black. Colors of a long gone rendition of the company. The colors aren’t as vibrant as they used to be and the banner has the heavy creases of something that was folded up and left packed away for years.
OutKast steps into frame now, dressed in his gear. His body isn’t as ripped as it used to be, but it’s clear the man can still fight. He stands there, listening to the boos of the fans outside in the Epicenter. He closes his eyes, grinning as he soaks it all in.
OutKast: That’s what I’m talking about right there. The adulation.
The fans continue to boo.
OutKast: A lot of people here…I don’t know. I walk down the halls and I see giants with masks, colorful girls, a girl I used to know with a dead name going strong, and through it all I’m reminded my time…is long past.
OutKast: I shouldn’t be here. I was retired by Cade Sydal. I shouldn’t be in spandex right now. I shouldn’t be oiled up. I shouldn’t be cutting a promo. I shouldn’t be standing in front of the SHOOT Project Helmet once again threatening someone with bodily harm.
OutKast pauses, letting the fans quiet down so he can continue.
OutKast: I am 52 years old. If I may be so bold, let me explain to the neophytes here just who I am. I am why SHOOT Project still lives on. The Johnsons love this business, to be sure, but without me Josh would’ve moved on years ago. Look at the archives. Watch Oblivions. Watch Revolution in the single and double digits. I turned the Heavyweight title into the World title. I was the catalyst that started a revolution in Instant Heat. People came to this company by the boatloads and you know why that is?
OutKast: To see if they could hang with me. To see if they had what it took because OutKast is another word for better…than…you. They wanted to know and they either proved it or they didn’t. For every Jonny Johnson, there’s a Mike Dexter. For every Real Deal, there’s an X-Calibur. For every Christopher Davis, there’s a Lonewolf. And now…for every Jamie Johnson, there is a Nate Robideau.
He turns to look at the banner longingly before he continues.
OutKast: I was once as close to a perfect professional wrestler as you could find. A god of submissions, a god of impact, and above all else…a god on the microphone. That’s what you don’t understand Nate. You’re some dyed in the wool fighter and that’s fine. I’m used to your kind. The problem is, as it’s always been, that you’re not used to MY kind. I’m not calling myself a god because it’s some new gimmick I’m trying out, no no. I am superhuman. I am capable of things no other being can proclaim and Nate? I’m not lying when I tell you I am worshiped. So for every submission you throw at me, I will shrug it off. For every blow you swear is a knockout, I will smile. Your best shots are akin to the stinging of a bee. I will feel it, look down, and see you die because of your stupidity.
He shakes his head.
OutKast: I don’t want a Blackhawk, boy. I want a Warhawk. I want someone who will scalp me, leave me to die on the hillside. I want someone who won’t just shrug when things happen to him. I want you to know what war is, boy. And believe me when I say that after I’ve embarrassed you, humbled you, and broke you this evening…then the work truly begins. This ends when I decide, my delinquent little student, and right now is your pop quiz. You will fail, you know it, I know it. But at least in failure…you can learn. You know what they say, Nate. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson. You know what else they say, boy?
OutKast: OutKast is another word for better…than…you.
He holds his finger up, listening to the people booing him. He smiles and listens just a second more, then glares at the camera.
He looks back and tears the banner off of the wall, throws it over his shoulder, and walks away, leaving the camera to stare quietly at an empty, blank wall.
Spinebuster Island Vs. The Carolina Lions
A Quick Announcement
Other Guy: Richards was just a smiiiiidge too slow to get to Quinn, wow! The Carolina Lions are the NUMBER ONE CONTENDERS to the SHOOT Project World Tag Team Championships!
Eryk Masters: That was some kinda match, OG. Those four guys? They put it all out there and the Lions? They are living up to honestly… all the hype.
Other Guy: Not to cut you off, but we’re back to the back as the cameras have happened upon a quick meeting between Real Deal, the Ox, and Donovan King…
We go to the back where we see Real Deal pacing back and forth, his head down and deep in thought. Behind him stand Lennox Ferguson and Donovan King, both clearly stressed and frustrated.
Real Deal: Goddamn it.
The Ox: Nobody’s owning up to it. We still don’t know who did it.
Donovan King: They wouldn’t own up to shit. They know we’d take them out of the Rumble.
Real Deal: Why do I think I know who’s behind all this.
The Ox: I don’t know. Are you asking me?
Donovan King: It don’t fuckin’ matter. Buck’s fucked up.
Real Deal: Yeah. He is.
He stops pacing and turns to the two men, his Chief of Staff and his Vice President.
Real Deal: Okay. Buck’s out of the title match tonight. It’s just gonna be IAM defending against Joshua Breedlove.
King and Ox nod their heads, understanding right now is not the time to talk to Real Deal, who is infuriated.
Ring Intro: Nate Robideau
With a muted guitar riff and the pulse of an electronic beat, the arrival of the Blackhawk himself is heralded.
“Sick, Sick, Sick” erupts, and the fane leap to their feet in a roaring cheer as Nate Robideau steps onto the entrance, hopping on the balls of his feet, shaking out his arms. He’s wearing his gear, feet taped, rocking his Blackhawk Gym hoodie–in short, a fighter on his way to battle. He eyes the crowd, scanning them, all business in his bearing, before he begins to step down the ramp.
Samantha Coil: Introducing…From Natakkoa, Elko County Nevada, weighing two-hundred and forty pounds…
He makes it to the ring and rolls in, popping to his feet and raising his arms high, to resounding cheers. He peels off his sweatshirt, throwing it into the crowd, and immediately begins tugging at the ropes and stretching his limbs. He kneels in the corner, taking a silent moment to himself, as Coil continues.
Samantha Coil: …he is The Blackhawk…NATE ROBIDEAU!!
He pops to his feet and raises one arm, before busying himself with stretches and shadowboxing as 16 Volt fades out.
Ring Intro: OutKast
A single bass strike hits the PA, bringing the lights down.
“Signal to Noise (Instrumental)” by Peter Gabriel begins to play.
The camera moves up to the SHOOT Tron.
A helicopter flies over Las Vegas, a single spotlight shining down. The scene shifts to the infamous pyramid of the Luxor shines through the night sky. Static starts to permeate the orchestral opening. We begin to hear a faint voice growing louder and louder.
Jason Johnson: …OutKast really showing The SHOOT Project just why he is considered a legend in this dance we call professional wrestling!
A brief flash of a man blurred out, hitting a double arm DDT to a foe.
Ed Raymond: THAT’S OUTKAST, JASON!!
A foe is hoisted upon his shoulders and dropped into a piledriver. The camera zooms past the Las Vegas strip and begins to settle on the SHOOT Project Epicenter.
“Boo…cheer, what’s it matter? Standing before you are your new masters, SHOOT Project.”
We enter the empty hallowed halls, where images of champions past adorn the walls. Jonny Johnson. Christopher Davis. Diamond Del Carver. Stellar Insanity. Long Island Hardcore. The Real Deal. Chris Lee. Ben Jackman.
Samantha Coil: …the winningest SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion in the company’s existence… he’s responsible for the longest World Heavyweight reign, is a member of the Hall of Fame, and is one of the biggest drawing superstars in the HISTORY of Wrestling. He is the one… the only…
The camera turns and ascends a small flight of steps and settles on the entrance stage for the ringside area of the SHOOT Project ring, where the Faithful congregate.
A longer flash of a man signing the back of a fallen foe with a sharpie. A voice whispers in the music.
…in other words…
The music ERUPTS and the lights come back up to reveal OUTKAST. He stands at the entrance, looking out among the masses of the Faithful. They boo, he doesn’t care. He saunters down to the ring, garbed in his traditional gear. He walks to the ring steps and enters the ring and his smirk fades. OutKast…is here.
Nate Robideau Vs. OutKast
Blood and Fire
The screen begins black, but fades into the image of a fire. Not a campfire, but something more powerful, roaring against the night sky like living neon. Though the sound is somewhat muffled, we can hear its roar and its crackle, as whatever is lit is being thoroughly consumed. A voice over begins, a profoundly graveled sound, the timbre of ancient tombs.
You are already in Hell.
And soon will be the time of monsters once again.
Soon your world will be blood and fire.
A tight shot of boots walking: two pairs. They dig deep and heavy into sand, their movements artificially slowed, the stomps of two beings of dream. As they continue, the sand gives way to bleached ground, cracked and crumbling. Then the ground gives way–the boots have landed on asphalt.
You remember it, don’t you?
Life in fear. Life under the heel of conquering beasts. A life of suffering, cowering. A life of atrocity to witness.
Lo, and I speak from the prophecy.
“They came down, the prior conquered masses. They had sworn fealty, but their words were hollow, false. The Lords of Hell trusted them, and in their mercy was also their folly. Betrayal rang across the skies at dusk, and the screams of their pain boiled the seas. They were sent away, banished from the very kingdom they helped forge. And there were celebrations in the streets as the turncoats danced and feasted, drunk on their victory.”
Wouldn’t you revel in your success?
The image cuts to a red piece of cloth floating in front of the lights and excess of the Strip itself. It operates as a sort of blackout, blotting the lights from view, moving in the same dreamy slow motion, a blood red curtain on the world. The view changes and we now see that it is a ragged banner hanging from some sort of standard–though the view is too up close for us to make out detail.
The beasts could have easily arrived the next night upon steeds of pure fire.
Made the usurpers bleed their last.
But my Lords are more thoughtful men than they are perceived to be.
Better, they said, to see who amongst the curs makes themselves the new pretender king.
Better, they said, to see who would celebrate their disappearance the loudest.
A point of view shot. People part, scatter, the sea giving way to God’s command. Hucksters, whores, sideshows. The tourists that watch them. The staff of these neon palaces. The homeless, the derelict–all offer a wide berth to the march.
But no one did celebrate their defeat. Not for long. Every day brought a new version of Hell. A new worry. Sleepless nights watching the horizon. Unsure of when or how but so sure that it would happen, one day. Sure that they would be roused from their deceiver’s slumber by the sound of hooves and destruction, of the drums of death, of bellows across the moonlight calling for their heads.
That day is here.
Those drums are thumping.
The screams cut through the silence and starlight.
Finally, a cut. The Epicenter, as seen from the street. There is a mighty grunt, and the standard is driven into the ground. We can now see it quite clearly: Two axes underneath a horned skull, somewhere between goat, man, and demon. All in gleaming chrome. The blood red banner whips in the air beneath it.
You are already in Hell.
And soon will be the time of monsters once again.
Soon your world will be blood and fire.
Azraith DeMitri Vs. Jacob Mephisto (c)
The lights dim as a slow, menacing riff starts to snarl through the arena. Each sound feeling like the claws of some massive beast, clinking and scratching its way through the Epicenter.
Eryk Masters: From what this man has said since last seen here, despite questions about his health he sounds ready to end this here. Whatever ‘end this’ means in these two men’s context.
A low voice seems to cut through the snarl, setting a tone…
There is no justice here, just revenge
And no love left in you, only pain
The soft , contemplative voice turns into a snarling, vicious scream as Azraith pushes his way to the top of the ramp, the crowd roaring along with the voice as the spotlights strobe a violent red.
BLEEDING IN YOUR ECHO CHAMBER
A CRIMSON HOUSE OF DIRTY MIRRORS
He’s wearing a simple pair of black denim jeans and heavy-duty looking combat boots, the metal toes stamped on the exterior of the boot in muted, blued steel.
Other Guy: Azraith has been through every war imaginable, and I’ve been a guest to many of them, but all of this feels so different. We’ve seen it in the past, usually Az comes to these big matches with much more pomp and circumstance, he loves making a stage of his battles…this seems…wrong. It’s hard to place my finger on
The pace of the music picks up to a galloping train, that clawing guitar riff turning into a marauding, rampaging monster.
WEAPONING SUFFERING, THE LICKS YOU NEVER HAD
TRAUMA ECHOES, STOLEN FROM THE SHOULDERS OF YOUR PAST
As the music reaches a fever pitch, Az’s pace remains a slow, methodical step down to the ring. He looks at the monstrosity that has been built in (partially) his name. His fingers run along the cages walls, a violent shake or two. Showing no emotion other than the barely contained rage that seems to be bubbling at every second passing, Az steps through the open door and stalks to his corner. The lights raise up and once they do, everyone can see the vicious, still-darkening bruising and scarring the dog collar assault left Azraith from a few weeks ago.
Eryk Masters: We could assume his mindset and his mental and physical health all night, but I don’t think I’ve seen or heard Azraith quite so determined to move forward…move on than what I’ve heard from him this week.
The lights cut out again. The crowd begins to hurl boos in anticipation of what’s coming. And suddenly…
REACH OUT AND TOUCH FAITH
“Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode begins to pulse through the Epicenter as the lights begin to strobe.
Your own, personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there
Jacob Mephisto steps out onto the entrance stage. He’s dressed in a pair of black jeans, complete with combat boots and no shirt, the years of scars adorning his chest and back. The Iron Fist Championship is fastened firmly around his waist.
Eryk Masters: You wanna talk about focus and importance, OG? Here’s another man who puts a lot of effort into big entrances. Tonight? He’s coming for a fight and he knows it.
Other Guy: This won’t be a fight, E. This is the final battle in an absolute war. The Iron Fist Championship is on the line. This is old school. This is almost primal.
Mephisto moves down the ramp, stopping to stare up at the devil’s playground standing in front of him, his eyes locking on the steel chain laying across the ring.
Mephisto, sheds his title and enters the ring, closing the cage door behind him. On the outside, Samantha Coil stands ready.
Samantha Coil: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall and is the special No Escape Classic Iron Fist Rules Match for the SHOOT Project Iron Fist Championship!
The crowd lets out a large cheer.
Samantha Coil: Introducing first, the challenger! He is The Sandman, AZZRAIIITH DEEEEEEMIIIIITRIIIIII!!!
The SHOOT Faithful heap their praise down on the challenger.
Samantha Coil: His opponent is the current reigning Iron Fist Champion… JAAACOOOOB MEEEEEEPHIISTOOOOO!!!
Neither man hesitates to buckle the collar around their neck. The referee calls for the bell.
The bell sounds and neither man moves a muscle. They stand across the ring from one another, hatred practically emanating from their bodies. Slowly, methodically, deliberately, they move toward one another until they’re face to face. Pale, grey eyes full of vitriol meet violent, blue eyes full of madness and bad intentions.
And then in starts.
Eryk Masters: Here we go! Azraith and Mephisto are tearing into one another right off the bat!
There’s no hesitation. Azraith and Mephisto both reach forward and snatch a handful of hair and start firing right hands at one another. The crowd lets out a roar as the final chapter has begun!
Mephisto reaches down, scooping a handful of chain and swings, but Azraith knocks his other hand away and ducks the blow, immediately grabbing a length of chain of his own! Mephisto spins around from the momentum of his swing and Az wraps the chain around his neck and starts to pull!
Eryk Masters: Oh my! This is going south for Mephisto fast!
Other Guy: Azraith may just choke him out right here! Might be the fastest Iron Fist match in history!
Mephisto comes alive and claws at the chain wrapped around his throat like a wild man. Azraith wraps the chain tighter in his fists, but Mephisto rolls forward, flipping The Sandman over him in a modified snap mare, breaking the choke.
Mephisto coughs, trying to pull the leather collar away from his neck enough to breath as he staggers away, but he runs out of room, when Azraith pops to his feet and snatches him back. Mephisto lands square on his behind at the feet of a seething Azraith DeMitri, who looks down at him with disdain.
Eryk Masters: This is not going well for the Iron Fist Champion!
Other Guy: Look, I’m not saying he brought this on himself, but, I mean, he really did.
Azraith reaches down and snatches Mephisto by the hair, pulling him to his feet, but Mephisto is too fast! The champion rakes Az’s eyes and follows up with a nasty looking headbutt. Azraith staggers back, shaking his head. Mephisto charges in, but Azraith brings a length of chain up and side steps, catching Mephisto with a clothesline with it!
Mephisto rolls around on the mat, clutching at his throat. Azraith doesn’t hesitate. He stalks Mephisto, pulling him up by the chain. Mephisto swings wild, but Az dodges and snatches the Iron Fist Champion by the hair. He rushes forward, dragging Mephisto with him and slings Mephisto forward, but the Patriarch puts on the breaks and uses Az’s momentum and the chain connecting them to launch Azraith forward into the cage wall!
Eryk Masters: Oh! Mephisto just bought himself some time!
Other Guy: He did more than that! He just smashed Azraith’s face into that steel cage! And DiMitri is cut!
Az bounces off the cage, a fresh gash opening on his forehead. Mephisto charges forward and mows The Avatar down with a running lariat. The Patriarch begins stalking his challenger, scooping a length of chain into his hands.
Eryk Masters: This isn’t gonna be good for Azraith!
Other Guy: Nothing about this match is good for either of these men, E.
Mephisto rears back and WHIPS the chain down across Az’s ribs! The crowd lets out a collective groan as Az tries to cover up. Mephisto whips the chain down again and again as Azraith tries to protect himself and rolls around in pain. Mephisto stops for a moment, screaming down at his challenger.
Mephisto: IS THIS WHAT YOU WANTED?
He wraps his fist with the chain and drops down, driving the chained fist right into Azraith’s throat.
Mephisto drags The Sandman back to his feet by the hair. He shoves Az away before jerking him back by the chain and leveling Az with a lariat.
Eryk Masters: Pride Before the Fall!
Mephisto turns to the referee and orders him to count. The champion screams at Az.
Mephisto: JUST STAY DOWN AND THIS CAN ALL BE OVER, SANDMAN!
Azraith scrambles through the pain and is almost immediately back to his feet. He whirls around and Mephisto is right in his face, driving a vicious knee into The Sandman’s gut.
Azraith doubles over, but looks up at Mephisto with a sick smile on his face. He growls through his bruised throat.
Azraith: Now we’re FUCKIN’ talkin’.
Az moves forward, eating a HEAVY right hand on his way in, but once he get inside Mephisto’s defenses, Azraith fires a quick pair of elbows to Mephisto’s jaw. He follows up with a nasty knee to Mephisto’s stomach.
Azraith backs up the length of the chain and let’s out a ROAR, rushing forward!
Eryk Masters: ROLLLLING ELBOW! Mephisto just went down like a ton of bricks!
The referee readies himself to count, but Az steps between him and Mephisto, shaking his head. Azraith drops down and hooks Mephisto’s arms in a double chicken wing before flipping up and over into a cattle mutilation! Mephisto comes alive, screaming in pain!
Other Guy: This is just meant to torture, E! No submissions in this match!
Azraith hangs on a bit longer before rolling away and popping to his feet. Az wipes blood from his face, the sadistic smile still etched on his face.
Mephisto begins to crawl towards the ropes, but Az simply steps on the chain connecting the two men. Az jerks Mephisto back to his feet, snatching him by the hair and waistband before hurling him forward into the cage!
Mephisto bounces off the cage and Az sends him right back into it.
Eryk Masters: My god! Azraith is playing pinball with Mephisto and the cage! This is getting bloody fast!
Other Guy: Did you expect anything else?
Az sends Mephisto into the cage over and over. Finally, Mephisto staggers away from the cage, legs wobbly, and Azraith scoops him up into a powerslam position.
The Sandman rushes forward, goring Mephisto into the top turnbuckle! Az holds on and turns back to the center of the ring. He pauses for a moment and drives Mephisto down with a Michinoku Driver.
Eryk Masters: That’s the Smirking Revenge!
Az takes a few steps back, not quite the length of the chain, and motions for the referee to start a count.
Mephisto crawls to the ropes, beginning to pull himself to his knees.
Mephisto drags himself upright, stopping the count and staggers away. Azraith charges in, but Mephisto catches him, lifting The Avatar and DRIVING him to the mat with a spinebuster! Mephisto rolls away and, when he comes to his feet, there’s a new look in his eyes. He stalks forward, measuring Azraith.
Az drags himself back to his feet, Mephisto watching and waiting. As Azraith turns around, Mephisto grabs hold of the chain and rushes away from Azraith, the force of the motion whipping Az back by his heavily bruised neck!
Eryk Masters: Oh! Oh man. That was brutal.
Mephisto moves forward and stomps down on the back of Azraith’s neck. He grabs Az by the waistband of his jeans and rushes him head-first into the cage! He drags Az between the ropes and props him against the cage.
Other Guy: What is he thinking?
Mephisto rushes forward, but Azraith side steps! Mephisto spears the cage door and goes right through it, tumbling down the steel steps and to the floor on the outside!
Azraith uses the cage to drag himself back up to his feet, stalking out the destroyed cell door. Mephisto finds the outside of the cage and pulls himself up. As he turns around, he comes face to face with a bloody and angry Azraith.
Azraith smashes his own head into the bridge of Mephisto’s nose and blood immediately flows from Mephisto’s nostrils.
Azraith: We’re going down memory lane, motherfucker.
Az looks up for a long moment, the crowd cheers growing exponentially.
Eryk Masters: What’s he doing?
Other Guy: Oh man, he’s gonna take Mephisto up to the top of that cell!
Sure enough Azraith begins to climb. Mephisto clutches at the chain, but as The Sandman climbs, the chain grows tight and Mephisto is forced to follow. Mephisto climbs faster sending shots to Azraith’s ribs on the way up. Az just eats the blows, continuing on his mission.
Azraith arrives at the top just seconds before Mephisto. Both men stand atop the cell, joined at the neck by a fifteen foot chain. They both pause for a moment, looking out over the sea of humanity that is the SHOOT Faithful losing their minds.
And then the war resumes. Both men begin to tear into one another. Mephisto grabs a handful of chain and swings, but Azraith ducks, grabbing his own handful and whipping Mephisto right across the gut with the chain. He hooks Mephisto’s head and drops him atop the steel mesh of the cell’s roof with a DDT!
Eryk Masters: This might not be flashy, but this is an absolute war, folks.
Other Guy: These two are trying to end one another tonight!
Azraith picks Mephisto up and slowly begins to wrap the chain around his neck. Mephisto scratches and claws, but the Sandman is methodical. He is not to be denied. Azraith DRAGS Mephisto to the edge of the cell and the crowd lets out a cheer.
Eryk Masters: No! This is too far!
Azraith SHOVES Mephisto forward and leans back, holding the chain tight. Mephisto falls forward, losing his footing on the cage!
Other Guy: Holy Christ! AZRAITH DEMITRI IS HANGING JACOB MEPHISTO FROM THE TOP OF THE CELL!
Az is practically frothing at the mouth as he wrenches back on the chain. Mephisto starts to panic, kicking his legs wildly and clawing at the collar around his neck, pale eyes wide.
A beat later and something changes in Azraith’s expression. It… softens. Az moves forward quick as lightning and drags Mephisto back up onto the cell roof. Azraith shakes his head, grabbing at his own blue hair.
Eryk Masters: OH! That was low!
Mephisto has grabbed the chain and YANKED up, the chain coming up between Az’s legs and crumpling him down to the cage roof. Mephisto smirks through a crimson mask.
Mephisto: There’s your humanity, Azraith DiMitri. It’s going to be your end.
Mephisto delivers a nasty boot square to Az’s face. Azraith reels back on his knees but doesn’t go down. Mephisto backs up to the end of the chain. He rushes forward!
Other Guy: GODLESS! That shining axe kick connected!
Mephisto grabs Azraith by his hair and starts to drag him forward toward the edge of the cell. He slowly unbuckles and removes the collar from his own throat, an angry purple bruise forming to match Azraith’s.
Eryk Masters: Wait a minute? Can he do that?
Other Guy: What are they gonna do? Disqualify him? No rules in an Iron Fist match, E!
Mephisto buckles the collar to the top of the cell. He brings Az back to his feet, the Avatar of SHOOT on wobbly legs.
Mephisto: I told you how this would end.
Mephisto shoves Azraith, BUT Azraith springs to life, wrapping the chain around Mephisto’s neck as he falls back, bringing Mephisto with him!
The crowd gasps as the chain SNAPS and both men continue to fall, but BOTH men are able to just grab hold of the edge of the cell. Mephisto reaches over, grabs Az by the hair and RAMS his head into the cage. Mephisto begins to move down the cage.
Azraith shakes the cobwebs out and begins to move down the cage as well. Mephisto hits the ground first staggering away. Azraith is still on his way down, but LAUNCHES himself from the cage and just collides with Mephisto, sending both men down in a heap!
The crowd is on its feet!
HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!
Azraith brings Mephisto to his feet again and drags the Iron Fist Champion back through the broken cage door and into the ring. Az drags Mephisto to his feet, but Mephisto pops up and SPEWS black mist into Azraith’s eyes!
Other Guy: Black Mist!
Mephisto moves in quickly and hoists Az up onto his shoulders into a fireman’s carry. He walks to the center of the ring and shrugs him up, bringing him down into a nasty lungblower!
Mephisto pops back up and stalks forward. He drags Az back to his feet. He measures Azraith, grabbing an arm and twisting. He pushes Az back and jerks him back in for another short-arm clothesline, but Az ducks under and hooks Mephisto!
Eryk Masters: Kata-Hajime! Azraith has that locked in!
Az lets out a roar and LIFTS Mephisto up and over with a kata-hajime suplex! He keeps it locked in and rolls through, lifting and dropping him on his head again! He rolls through again and Az lifts Mephisto up for a third, dropping him on his head again. Finally, Az drops back, cinching the hold on tighter complete with a grapevine!
Other Guy: That’s the Seraphim Dance! Azraith is breaking out the classics here! And Mephisto is fading!
Mephisto’s arm goes limp and Azraith whips him away, rolling over and pulling himself to his feet. He motions for the referee to count Mephisto.
Mephisto starts to stir, rolling to his stomach.
He pushes himself to his knees.
Mephisto wills himself to his feet, turning on rubber legs to face Azraith.
Azraith moves in and both men start trading heavy bombs again. Azraith doesn’t even try to block Mephisto’s shots, simply absorbing them as he moves in to send elbows of his own.
Azraith gets in close and he SNATCHES Mephisto by the throat. He LIFTS Mephisto up!
Eryk Masters: Die Hand Des-NO! Mephisto countered!
Mephisto hooks Azraith’s head and rocks back, driving Az’s head into the canvas with a DDT! Mephisto stumbles back to his feet. He looks at Azraith and then to the top turnbuckle.
Other Guy: What’s Mephisto thinking here?
Mephisto drags Azraith to the corner. Mephisto positions himself with his back to the turnbuckles. He climbs to the top, dragging Az up with him. Mephisto tucks Azraith’s head in a piledriver position.
But, Azraith puts on the brakes when Mephisto tries to lift! The Sandman slips his head out and climbs up so both men are standing on the top turnbuckle. Azraith hooks Mephisto’s head and arm, grabbing the roof of the cage to steady himself.
Eryk Masters: HOLY SHIT!
Azraith LEAPS backward with Mephisto, delivering the sloppiest Spanish Fly you’ve ever witnessed from the top rope, sending both men crashing and burning to the canvas!
Other Guy: That’s called The Final!! I haven’t seen him do that in years!
Both men lay motionless in the ring. The referee checks in each before beginning his count!
Neither man moves, but they both begin to stir.
Both Azraith and Mephisto start to push themselves up, but both men struggle.
They both push up, but both men collapse!
Ding Ding Ding!
The referee consults with Samantha Coil for a moment before she lifts the microphone to her lips.
Samantha Coil: Ladies and gentlemen, the referee has counted out both men. Therefore, this contest is ruled a DRAW!
The crowd unleashes a hail of boos.
Samantha Coil: However, still the Iron Fist Champion, Jacob Mephisto!
The booing intensifies as the referee hands Mephisto the Iron Fist Championship. Mephisto barely appears to be present mentally as he holds the title close to his chest. A slow, steady smirk forms on his face as he fights his own body to get to his feet.
Mephisto begins to laugh, tossing his head back all while clutching the Iron Fist Championship to his chest.
And then the crowd roars with cheers.
Azraith DeMitri sits up like a babysitter’s worst nightmare on Halloween night.
Mephisto’s smirk falters and he slowly turns to see an absolute monster standing in front of him. Azraith seethes. Mephisto backpedals, holding up a hand.
Mephisto: Wait… this is over now…
Azraith moves quick as a flash snatching Mephisto by the throat.
Azraith: Not. Yet.
Azraith ROCKETS Mephisto into the air and drives him down across his knee!
Eryk Masters: Die Hand Des Gottes! Azraith isn’t done yet!
Azraith DeMitri looks around slowly at the rabid fans. He slowly draws his thumb across his throat and then SNATCHES Mephisto up by the hair. He positions Mephisto in a piledriver position and hooks the arms. Azraith unleashes a roar loud enough to be worthy of his moniker of SHOOT Project’s kaiju.
He hoists Mephisto up and JUMPS, spiking Mephisto down with a double underhook piledriver. Mephisto is OUT.
Other Guy: The Extinction ‘22! How fitting! Azraith never said anything about wanting to win this match, E! He said he was gonna end this tonight!
Azraith picks up the Iron Fist Championship, looking at the title he’s soaked gallons of blood on over the years. He stands over Mephisto and places a boot on his chest, looking out over the crowd.
AZRAITH! AZRAITH! AZRAITH!
Azraith: Now it’s over.
Azraith gently places the Iron Fist Championship across Mephisto’s waist. He takes a deep breath and releases it, seemingly releasing everything that this war has built inside him.
And the. Azraith DeMitri’s knees buckle and he collapses next to Jacob Mephisto.
Medical technicians rush the ring, checking on both bloody and broken men.
Eryk Masters: Folks, we’ve got to get these Soldiers checked on and we’ve got to get this all cleaned up. But, stay tuned! There’s still more to come tonight, including the World Heavyweight Championship match and, of course, the Redemption Rumble! Don’t go anywhere!
Curtis Rose: Tag Team Savior
Eryk Masters: We have a Rumble winner and a NEW NUMBER ONE CONTENDER and her name is RAIKO!!!
Other Guy: That’s right! RAIKO will get a shot at the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion at RECKONING DAY. We’ve still got the World title match coming up AND we have Iron Will 2 on the horizon as well, so who KNOWS who that might be. But next? Right before our main event goes live, we’ve got a promotional video from the one… the only…
Eryk Masters: CURTIS ROSE!!!
The scene opens to a beautiful view of the snow covered Rocky Mountain range. In the distance, a faded image of the American flag waves gloriously over the snow-capped peaks. From the left, a solitary eagle flies majestically across the field of red, white, and blue before coming to rest on the very tip of the tallest peak. “America the Beautiful” begins to play, seemingly from a canned grade school music class. Just as the chorus begins, a gritty chord blares over the track, sliding down before a giant explosion of fire erupts at the base of the mountain rage. The music is all but drowned out under the sound of the blasts until all that remains is the vibrato of the guitar and the lingering sounds of flame,
From the rubble of the mountains a figure begins to rise from the bottom of the screen. A shining bright light shines down, illuminating both the flag and the figure.
Curtis Rose stands, wearing an American Flag vest and a pair of Red, White, and Blue Pit Viper shades over his face. He outstretches his left arm as the eagle descends from sky and lands in his hand, staring boldly in freedom at the screen.
Curtis Rose: Hello there. My name is American Hero Curtis Rose of the famous SHOOT Project Tag Team Curtis Rose’s Fear and Loathing. Tonight I chose to interrupt your viewing of the Redemption Show to bring you a very special opportunity.
Curtis brings his right hand over and gently pats the head of the eagle who flies off into the great wide open, flapping his wings of freedom mightily in the breeze.
Curtis Rose: Have you, or someone you love, found yourselves as part of a failing tag team? Have you woken up and realized that your tag team partner is lusting over an evil tyrant with a Volcano Lair? Are you, or your Tag Team Partner stuffy, dusty, Japanese snorefests that value the stoic nature of stiff competition? Are you, or your tag team partner sad stereotypes from The Sopranos? Have you suddenly woken up to find that your tag team partner would rather be a part of literally any other wrestling promotion than the one that she is a tag team champion with you in?
Curtis reaches both hands off screen and grabs hold of a Gibson Flying V adorned with the American Flag. He starts to strum his hands wildly as a track of Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” begins to obviously play over top of him.
Curtis Rose: If you have found yourself to be in any of these very unfortunate situations don’t worry, there’s still hope. Accept me, Curtis Rose, as your SHOOT Project Tag Team Savior. With my trusty sidekick, Alexander Vaka, we are here to lead you to the promised land of Tag Team Glory. In our years of experience as Tag Team Messiah’s, we have several helpful tips and tricks to give to you on your long road to Tag Team Redemption. Have a shot at the Tag Titles but don’t quite feel like you are up to the task of leading the charge of the greatest promotion in the history of Wrestling? Simple! Just give that shot to us. We’d be happy to help you by showing you a better way. The right way. The Fear and Loathing way!
Curtis overdramatically pulls the whammy bar in a section of the song that definitely does not call for whammy bar.
Curtis Rose: Just remember that when you are lost, loney, feel like you have no direction, that there is a higher power. I offer you a buoy in the storm, a message in a bottle, a ladder in the deep if you will. I am the bright, shining light of freedom that rings in the darkness of the oppressive frozen tundra that is the SHOOT Project Tag Team Division. So call today. We have operators standing by at all times ready to take your calls. We accept all forms of Tag Team Title opportunities, and all forms of surrender from teams scheduled to face us! So call today! Let your voice be heard, and let the bells of Freedom Ring!
As Curtis raises his arms above his head at the final mention of Freedom, a rather small visage of Alexander Vaka, obviously superimposed, comes into frame in the bottom right corner of the screen. He looks obviously annoyed and wearing a pair of reading glasses, staring down at an index card in his hand.
Alexander Vaka: The above statements are not endorsed by SHOOT Project Tag Team Fear and Loathing LLC, The Holy Breedlove Empire, or Joshua Breedlove. Any and all promises of salvation or redemption are purely the musings of Curtis Rose and are, in no way indicative of the thoughts or feelings of Fear and Loathing LLC. For more information, please contact no one. Fear and Loathing LLC make no guarantees of success either current or future for any tag teams that seek the advice of Curtis Rose.
Curtis Rose takes his right foot and kicks the vision of Vaka off the screen before another explosion erupts at the bottom of the screen. The American flag behind Curtis is now becoming more visible as the track for the Star Spangled Banner is replaced with a track of “Panama” by Van Halen begins to play. Curtis Rose is dramatically miming playing the guitar part as obviously photoshopped lighting bolts begin to erupt from his guitar. As the scene fades, the camera comes into focus on the lenses of his Pit Vipers. A flash of pink light scorches across the shades before illuminating the script “Rose” in neon Pink covers the lenses. The camera focuses on the text before fading out to black.
Joshua Breedlove Vs. Ignatius Albert Martin (c)
So much for an insurance policy...
Eryk Masters: He did it! He’s a two-time SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion!
Other Guy: Look, the guy’s good I’ll grant, but I think there’s some dubiousness involved in Buck Dresden’s attack and how he got removed from this match…
Eryk Masters: Whatever, OG! Let’s celebrate!
“Make Way for the King” starts to play as Breedlove rolls out of the ring and walks towards the announcer’s desk!
“Nah nah nah nah… production, cut that shit off.”
And just like that, his theme song cuts and it’s just a confused murmur in the crowd.
“Give me a fuckin’ microphone. NOW.”
Dennis Heflin cautiously obliges as Breedlove takes a seat on top of the announce desk, right in front of Eryk Masters and Other Guy. He hoists the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship onto his shoulder and smiles at it, then looks into the camera that’s positioned itself in front of him.
Joshua Breedlove: Hate it when things don’t go according to plan, right?
The crowd boos in agreement.
Joshua Breedlove: Here’s what was SUPPOSED to happen. Ignatius Albert Martin? The former champ in there?
Breedlove gives a coy, obnoxious, sarcastic wave…
Joshua Breedlove: He was supposed to be the underdog who overcomes the odds and fells the loud mouthed, obnoxious villain. That’s me. Sorry thing about Ignatius is that he had basically got crushed under the weight of the anxiety that comes with being the World Champion.
He points to himself, as though that information was needed.
Joshua Breedlove: And so, because of that… things just… have a way of not quite working out, and if IAM in there couldn’t do it? Then Buck Dresden was put in this situation to act as an insurance policy. Funny thing about insurance policies and claims, though… typically, the first claim is denied. Does that make me a claims adjuster?
He shrugs, the crowd continues to boo, starting to wake up to what’s actually going on.
Joshua Breedlove: I wasn’t supposed to be able to sit here, with this title, on this desk, with this microphone and I DAMN sure wasn’t supposed to be allowed to walk out of Redemption as the World Heavyweight Champion… and yet… and yet… here we are. Thing is, as I’ve made ABUNDANTLY CLEAR to the SHOOT Project Faithful, to the Soldiers, and ESPECIALLY to the guys that run this thing… my contract extension with this company was ONLY through midnight tonight or the end of this event, whichever came first.
The crowd has gone totally quiet.
Joshua Breedlove: Yep, you’ve clued in. I can hear the air just… rushing out the building. You are correct. Now, here’s what I’m sure is going to happen. Josh and Sean are going to fall all over themselves to try and get a deal done now. They’re going to give me… whatever I want. They’re going to fill my contract full of the riders, requests, suggestions… but the thing is? Maybe I want to take a little vacation, you know? Regardless, one thing is certain right now.
Joshua Breedlove: The SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion… is no longer an employee of the SHOOT Project. I’m going on an adventure! Oh and thanks to my ex-girlfriend, Sia, for the use of her song “Unstoppable.” Really appreciated that, babe.
The last thing you see as Redemption comes to a close is the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion… Joshua Breedlove… Free agent… waving into the camera as the show fades to black.